The end has arrived for Guillermo Rigondeaux.
No matter what is decided moving forward, the two-time Olympic Gold medalist and former lineal junior featherweight champion was made to look his 41 years of age in losing a ten-round, unanimous decision to Philippines’ Vincent Astrolabio. All three judges scored the contest 95-94 in favor of Astrolabio, whose eighth round knockdown of Rigondeaux provided the margin of victory Saturday evening at Dubai Marina in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Astrolabio was not in awe of the mystique following Rigondeaux’s career, immediately taking the fight to the Cuban standout in the opening round. Rigondeaux stayed in the pocket, poking his jab and looking for counter opportunities. Astrolabio remained composed, sticking to his come-forward approach behind jab, straight right-hand combinations.
Rigondeaux offered more movement in round two, though never to the point of running. Superior infighting skills by Rigondeaux left Astrolabio to catch nothing but air on several right hand attempts, as Rigondeaux slipped and moved in getting the Filipino to follow him around the ring. The pattern would play out for the balance of the fight, with Astrolabio having his moments but growing increasingly frustrated over his inability to pun down the Cuban southpaw.
The second half of the fight saw Rigondeaux work behind a stiff jab often followed by a straight left hand upstairs or to the midsection. Astrolabio struggled to pin down the former champ, catching Rigondeaux’s gloves at close quarters and having to keep pace with Rigondeaux’s superior lateral movement.
Astrolabio was more effective in his ability to cut off the ring down the stretch in round seven, an adjustment that would pay off in a big way. Rigondeaux was no longer able to keep the pesky Filipino at bay, his defense no longer as sharp as Astrolabio closed the gap and scored with right hands.
Rigondeaux found himself in trouble late in round eight. Astrolabio connected with a clean jab and straight right hand, the latter catching Rigondeaux flush on the jaw and forcing him to the canvas for the first time in more than seven years. Rigondeaux beat the count but spent the final minute of the round clinching and attempting to regain his legs.
Astrolabio came out purposeful to start round nine, though unable to catch lightning in a bottle. Rigondeaux still appeared unsteady as he climbed off his stool but managed to regain his legs even and avoid most of the incoming. Astrolabio continued to come forward, while Rigondeaux was more effective on defense and in counterpunching than was the case in the previous few rounds.
Rigondeaux didn’t take any risks in the tenth and final round, spending the entire frame boxing from the outside. Astrolabio went on the hunt but was never able to plant his feet long enough to land anything of substance. Rigondeaux’s constant lateral movement created opportunities to land counter left hands, one freezing Astrolabio in his tracks and allowing the 41-year-old southpaw to coast to the finish line.
It just wasn’t enough to pick up his first win since the pandemic.
Astrolabio improves to 17-3 (12KOs), extending his current five-fight win streak with the biggest haul of his career.
Rigondeaux falls to 20-3 (13KOs), having suffered his second straight defeat. The former junior featherweight king has not won a fight since the pandemic, his last victory coming in a twelve-round split decision over Liborio Solis in a February 2020 secondary WBA bantamweight title fight.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox